Satisfying Educated Readers with High Expectations

In Sci-fi and Fantasy, Don't Write Like a Tour Guide

Writing fantasy and sci-fi can be challenging, but the biggest problem I observe in emerging writers is starting the story with a big ol' boring roadblock of background information. The effect is similar to listening to a tour guide drone on interminably as the tourists yawn, clear their throats and check their cell phones for the latest from the Twittersphere, waiting to be taken into the actual attraction.

In sci-fi and fantasy, instead of immersing us into the action of the story, many emerging writers will instead spend paragraphs, pages, even an entire (gag) prologue:

- telling the reader about this strange, bizarre, wonderful land.

- describing the planet where the story will eventually get interesting (we hope).

- explaining the technology or how it was created.

The antidote? Good fantasy and sci-fi writing has to start with a good story. Gadgets and magic are cool, but without a good story, you've lost your readers. 

Before you start writing, develop some interesting characters with quirks and problems, people (or beings) that we can like, hate, sympathize with. Think of conflicts that might exist in their lives independent of your storyline.

Once you have characters the reader can care about, put their lives in motion right away--from the first line of the book, if possible. It can be something relatively small (note: avoid having your characters waking up and preparing for the day; more boredom), but it should shortly reveal or begin to set in motion one or more of the conflicts.

As your characters become entangled in the circumstances of the story, you can reveal details about location, culture, physics, technology, etc.

So in summary:

1. Put your characters in motion right away.

2. Gadgets and magic are cool, but well-developed characters and intriguing conflicts are the heart of a story.

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Latest comments

04.02 | 16:41

Glad you've enjoyed the book! My email is on the way!

11.11 | 17:19

I'm currently enjoying "Haunted Mukwonago" and would like to send a few comments to Rod Vick. If you can contact me, I'd appreciate it.

15.05 | 12:54


24.08 | 10:42

I can soooooo relate to this, Rod. It's my writing day, too. I am laughing at my computer screen! You are so kind and patient with your fam & interruptions.

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